RITORNO A SETTEFRATI
English version Italian version
The following night I went out after dinner. I take the mandatory walk towards the hill to enjoy the wonderful landscape offered by the valley. Meanwhile, night is falling slowly and gently, a light wind is blowing; gently caressing my skin. Away in the distance I see the first lights of the night flickering on and shining in the villages, in the roads and in the suburbs. San Donato, Gallinaro, Atina… they are teeming with lights and activity; it is a warm and clear night and the sky is starry. I remember a time so long ago, but so very alive in my memory, when the lights in the valley were very few and feeble. Only when the moon was full, could you make out the dark silhouettes of the sleepy little villages. I remember when my grandmother Rosa sent me up the hill to see if my father had come back yet from some trip he had made. If I saw some lights coming towards the village, I knew it couldn’t be anybody else but him. So I would run back to report that he was coming back and mom would start to make dinner right away. As soon as my father stepped foot in the house, dinner was already waiting for him. The timing was perfect. After the square, the hill is the most common place for meetings and walks. We get together at night, when the young couples walk holding hands and head towards the darkest corner in the place. Others form groups here and there and have fun together. We, the old Americans, stop and lean on the rails of the parapet to chat and watch the lights in the distance, which seem blend together with the stars. We, the women, always eager shoppers, approach the shopping stalls and that are always present on the hill, lined up along the wall, under the linden trees. Now they are managed by non-Italians and have a little bit of everything to offer. We love these traditional displays because it is part of our past, the past that gave birth to us, the past saw us grow up, emigrate and then come back to our roots and live again to relive some of those times that now seem very far away but that will never be forgotten. Can you just live on memories? No, but you can find joy in memories. During the Holidays in Canneto, the stalls were lined up along the walls on the sides of the road that lead out into the countryside. They sold junk that had absolutely no value, but seemed like precious jewelry to us. As soon as the stalls were set up, my friends and I would go and look around, admiring the little things that we would have liked to have. If we got too close or if we touched something, the owner of the stall would shoo us away abruptly. But the hardest thing to figure out was how to get some money out of our moms. After lots of prayers, my mom would give me 100 Lire. It was not enough, not even back in those times, but for me it seemed like a fortune. I would immediately go to my friend Maria and together we would go to the stalls. We would scrutinize them all and stop at each and every one of them; she looked at things that, she said, could be good for me, but now I am sure she was looking at things that she liked for herself. After we went up and down the line of stalls at least twice, looking and touching every little thing (when the owner did not see us) we would stop and choose. I would always buy a little present for my friend as well, since she did not have 100 Lire.
Delia Socci Skidmore